BLESSED ARE THE SISSIES

BLESSED ARE THE BOI DYKES

BLESSED ARE THE PEOPLE OF COLOR MY BELOVED KITH AND KIN

BLESSED ARE THE TRANS

BLESSED ARE THE HIGH FEMMES

BLESSED ARE THE SEX WORKERS

BLESSED ARE THE AUTHENTIC

BLESSED ARE THE DIS-IDENTIFIERS

BLESSED ARE THE GENDER ILLUSIONISTS

BLESSED ARE THE NON-NORMATIVE

BLESSED ARE THE GENDERQUEERS

BLESSED ARE THE KINKSTERS

BLESSED ARE THE DISABLED

BLESSED ARE THE HOT FAT GIRLS

BLESSED ARE THE WEIRDO-QUEERS

BLESSED IS THE SPECTRUM

BLESSED IS CONSENT

BLESSED IS RESPECT

BLESSED ARE THE BELOVED WHO I DIDN’T DESCRIBE, I COULDN’T DESCRIBE, WILL LEARN TO DESCRIBE AND RESPECT AND LOVE

AMEN

—  Mark Aguhar, “Litanies to my heavenly brown body”
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Mark Aguhar (1987-2012)

Artist Statement (from markaguhar.com):

"Mark Aguhar’s work is a continuous exploration of queer expression and what it means to have grown up gay on the internet. Aguhar collects visual artifacts from queer online communities and uses them in their work to define and redefine who they are and what their body is. Aguhar’s work that combines porn, fashion, textile patterns, optical effects, trans identities, and queer jokes. They not intend to make teaching work, or art to represent the entirety of the LGBTIQA community, they express their situated experience of the spectrum. "

LITANIES TO MY HEAVENLY BROWN BODY (CONTD):

BLESSED ARE THE SISSIES

BLESSED ARE THE BOI DYKES

BLESSED ARE THE PEOPLE OF COLOR MY BELOVED KITH AND KIN

BLESSED ARE THE TRANS

BLESSED ARE THE HIGH FEMMES

BLESSED ARE THE SEX WORKERS

BLESSED ARE THE AUTHENTIC

BLESSED ARE THE DIS-IDENTIFIERS

BLESSED ARE THE GENDER ILLUSIONISTS

BLESSED ARE THE NON-NORMATIVE

BLESSED ARE THE GENDERQUEERS

BLESSED ARE THE KINKSTERS

BLESSED ARE THE DISABLED

BLESSED ARE THE HOT FAT GIRLS

BLESSED ARE THE WEIRDO-QUEERS

BLESSED IS THE SPECTRUM

BLESSED IS CONSENT

BLESSED IS RESPECT

BLESSED ARE THE BELOVED WHO I DIDN’T DESCRIBE, I COULDN’T DESCRIBE, WILL LEARN TO DESCRIBE AND RESPECT AND LOVE

AMEN

Mark Aguhar
still from performance Realness

My work is about visibility. My work is about the fact that I’m a genderqueer person of color fat femme fag feminist and I don’t really know what to do with that identity in this world.

It’s that thing where you grew up learning to hate every aspect of yourself and unlearning all that misery is really hard to do.

It’s that thing where you kind of regret everything you’ve ever done because it’s so complicit with white hegemony.

It’s that thing where you realize that your own attempts at passive aggressive manipulation and power don’t stand a chance against the structural forms of DOMINATION against your body.

It’s that thing where the only way to cope with the reality of your situation is to pretend it doesn’t exist; because flippancy is a privilege you don’t own but you’re going to pretend you do anyway. 

j.bee posted a comic about mark aguhar that touched on many of the conversations i have heard discussed since mark’s death - how to mourn someone you didn’t “know” (“know” being a very nebulous word when dealing with an internet culture that has frequently been called and characterized as “oversharing” - whatever that means), public discourse concerning suicide (v murder), how to remember people, how to commemorate people, how art created by/for/about can be sensationalist, how to talk about how death (in general, and specifically mark’s) make us feel (the question about how that matters, does it matter)

j.bee told me that my post that said “lets keep reblogging mark” inspired her comic and we discussed how we see less of mark’s work reblogged and what that means, if it means anything.

as usual, more questions than answers becuase there is no answer. i am just reminded that there is no answer and at least a million questions.

Virtual Mourning: A Eulogy For Someone We Never Knew



image


When Mark died— or when it really sunk in and I truly believed that Mark had died— the first thought I had was that it threw my theory about queer virtuality right out the window. 


Mark was a caustic and alluring presence on Tumblr. Tumblr is a blog platform comprised of various communities, many of which I’ve seen intersect over issues of gender politics, queer advocacy and the politics of marginalized identity. What it means, what it feels like to be fat, to be weird, to be queer, to be trans*, to be other, to be Othered. There are the fierce feminists who post images of crochet patterns reading “My Body Is A Battleground.” There is the legion of gay male-identified performance artists who post screen caps of shirtless Christopher Meloni and ironic Grindr encounters. There are queer people of color posting about what it’s like to be racialized, to be queer, to be fierce, to be Beyoncé and Mariah and Naomi. And then there was calloutqueen.


When I first found Mark, she terrified me. Here was someone who was relentless— who lived relentlessly, who was constantly questioning and interrogating and never allowing anyone she encountered to relax into their identity, into their privilege. Without ever speaking to me directly, calloutqueen called me out so many times on what I took for granted about gender, about beauty, about existence, about my comfortability with my position as a white cis-woman. She held me accountable for her pain— for the pain that anyone who is fighting for difference and agency inevitably has to feel. 

She defied category. She railed against definition. She refused to stop being difficult, confusing, unapologetic for her own existence as marginalized, as next-level. 


Mark frequently posted about her sadness, about her own exhaustion with the world’s limitations, about her sister’s recent suicide. She got it in a way that so few people do— to really experience the unbearable way that world cannot understand you— to feel the pain of loneliness, of boredom, of limitation. She was a beacon of a kind of consciousness that screamed out, fought breathlessly for the future— and exuded unapologetically a kind of darkness that was essential and real in its ugliness. 


She was, for this pocket for the internet, an ambassador of a new code of beauty, and kindness, and understanding, and ruthless identity transformation. Mark was someone whose work you don’t realize is so important until they are gone. 


A couple months ago, she posted a picture of a recent tattoo. A sigil, in honor of her sister: “to save me from drowning.” In a description of one of her works, Mark explained: “It’s that thing where you realize that your own attempts at passive aggressive manipulation and power don’t stand a chance against the structural forms of DOMINATION against your body.” 


It feels terrifying and hopeless and stupid that I know that is what killed her. That no matter how sanctioned and sacred and full of love and inspiration the space you create for yourself online can be, that sometimes it does not change the crushing experience of an everyday reality that reifies an abject hatred and contempt for your existence. 

- - 


I went to bed last night, defeated that we had lost a leader. I woke up this morning believing that out of the ashes of annihilation and despair, that Mark has left us with some hope. 


As I write this, Tumblr is in mourning. My dashboard is a series of echoes of Mark’s work, her philosophies, her videos, and the people she affected. There are many eulogies like mine, most from people who knew Mark personally. And then there are the rest of us— those who never spoke to her, who only knew her through the presence she cultivated online— those of us who are asking, now, what is the appropriate expression of mourning for someone we never knew?


Last night, Colin Self presented a call to arms to the Tumblr-sphere. He posted a video of himself brushing his hair the way Mark used to, over and over again into an OCD level of smoothness, painting his lips a deep MAC red, pursing them like Mark did, lip-syncing breathlessly with Donna Lewis, “I Love You, Always Forever, near or far, closer together…” This morning, my dashboard is inundated with video after video that gayinterest has reblogged in tribute to Mark. People from all over tumblr painting their lips, brushing out their top-knots, lip-syncing to our anthems. We Found Love in A Hopeless Place. We Can Work It Out. More Than A Woman. Aretha’s Skylark (“Won’t you tell me where my love can be? … Won’t you lead me there?”).


We are taking up Mark’s work. We are using the echoes of her fierce presence, the archive of her virtuality that she has left behind, to create new work in her honor. We are using her same video platform in imitation, in tribute, in order to publicize Who She Was and Who She Is Becoming. We are using our queer internet videos to make her visible. We will ensure that she is seen.


I hope that her virtual archive doesn’t become a meme. That she is not as quickly forgotten as the popularity of her death has spread like wildfire over the internet. Who will keep up her virtual presence? What can ever replace calloutqueen? Which of us will break us out of the cycle of tribute and of imitation and lead us into the kind work that Mark would have wanted to create but didn’t have time to? 


This is our project, now. This is our charge. Like everything else, it is terrifying, and daunting, and important. 


And Mark has challenged us not to fuck it up. 

5

prints i silkscreened of excerpts from “these are the axes” by mark aguhar

edit: skeetshoot thanks for bringing that point up re: the idea that someone would consider profiting off of mark’s work. i made these patches for a personal project, they’re definitely not for sale! hfml they are not merch.

context: i am currently failing out of my first year of art school for choosing to focus on trans survival/beauty with the things i produce, as opposed to solely focusing on technical skill and aesthetics. this is the first silkscreen i have ever made, as an exercise to learn how to print for my sample book, and these prints will be displayed along with a copy of mark’s cited poem in a closed class critique tomorrow. since i can tell i won’t be able to continue next year with the marks and feedback i’m getting, combined with the transphobic and classist harrassment, i’m trying to pay tribute to all the trans artists who have influenced me, and use the resources i have access to now to do so before i have to go back to working full-time and stop creating anything.

as a side note, none of the work you see on my art blog (or any other work i have made) has ever been sold for personal profit, although i have sold art for fundraising purposes before, for the lgbt youthline, and for the will munro fund for queers living with cancer. i would kind of like to find a way to sell things that i make that i don’t feel fucked up about when times are extra rough, but so far i haven’t found a way that feels okay for me.

in that vein of thinking, i did consider donating some of these patches to the ste-emilie skillshare to sell for fundraising, but decided it would be too weird because i can’t ask for permission, and mark’s name nor the name of the poem is not printed anywhere.

do creatures think it would be fucked up to give these patches away as gifts to friends if i embroidered “excerpt from these are the axes - mark aguhar” at the bottom of them? i like the idea of these words continuing to be circulated, which i assume mark was into because they were posted on tumblr, but i could definitely use some input here. it’s definitely troubling to me that people are assuming they are for sale.

The Dragon is the Frame: Inspired by the life and the work of Mark Aguhar

Gallery 400, June 29-August 10

http://gallery400.uic.edu/exhibitions/the-dragon-is-the-frame

Artists: Mark Aguhar, Claire Arctander, Nina Barnett, Jeremy Bolen, Elijah Burgher, Edie Fake, Pamela Fraser, Tiffany Funk, R. E. H. Gordon, Steve Hnilicka, Kasia Houlihan, Mark Kent, Young Joon Kwak, Andrew Mausert-Mooney, Marianna Milhorat, Tim Nickodemus, Aay Preston-Myint, Macon Reed, Nick Rummler, Michael Sirianni, Nathan Thomas, Neal Vandenbergh, Allison Yasukawa, Gwendolyn Zabicki, and Latham Zearfoss

This group exhibition features work inspired by the life and work of the indomitable Mark Aguhar (1987-2012), a fearless, uncompromising, and beautiful artist/activist/goddess.

(Image: Mark Aguhar, No Tops Needed, 2010)


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